Vinicius Junior, Brazil
Vinícius Jr. made his senior debut for the Brazilian national team as a 19-year-old; he has 28 caps and 3 goals for Brazil Florencia Tan Jun/Via PxImages/Icon Sportwire/Getty Images

SEATTLE - With age comes wisdom, but also responsibilities. That will be the case for Real Madrid star Vinícius Júnior during Copa América 2024 as the winger is set to be Brazil's main man up top due to the absences of Neymar Jr., Gabriel Jesús and Roberto Firmino.

The 23-year-old is expected to be the leader of a 'Canarinha' team that, on paper, looks like a weaker version of the teams that reached the 2019 and 2021 Copa América finals. But the encouraging factor for Brazilian fans is that their star player will arrive to the national team after having one of his best seasons since moving to Europe as an 18 year old.

After a discreet showing in the 2022 World Cup, Vinícius will have his first true chance at leading Brazil at a major tournament. And it couldn't have arrived at a better time. With just the UEFA Champions League final left on the European soccer season, Vinícius leads Real Madrid with 23 goals scored in all competitions in 2023-24.

Viní Jr's best goals for Real Madrid

In fact, Vinícius Júnior has scored 20+ goals for Real Madrid in each of the last three seasons and is in contention to win this year's Ballon d'Or thanks to an incredible year with 'Los Blancos.' He has earned a reputation of being a clutch player for Real Madrid when it matters most and his stats prove it. Out of his 20 career goals in the Champions League, 10 of them have come in the knockout stages including the winning goal in the 2021-22 final against Liverpool.

The Brazilian will need all the magic moments he can get during the summer if he wants to take Brazil to another Copa América final. In his previous appearance at the continental tournament, Vinícius Jr. played a secondary role coming off the bench on four of Brazil's seven games and played just a total of 64 minutes throughout the tournament. One of the key absences for Brazil for Copa América 2024 is Neymar, who was used by then manager Tite either as a center forward or a second striker in four of the seven games in 2021.

In 28 caps for the 'Seleçao,' Vinícius has managed to score just three goals, one of those coming during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Dorival Júnior, Brazil's new manager, will more than likely give the youngster full autonomy when the team goes in the attack. Real Madrid's number '7' is arguably the world's best dribbler and the best player on 1v1 scenarios.

He finished this LaLiga season among the best and most dangerous dribblers in the league, ranking first in high-impact carries, which are dribbles that help the team gain yards in the final third of the pitch. He also ranks among the top three in terms of total dribbles.

A team that has been historically full of elite dribblers and "magicians," the opportunity to have an attacking trio of Vinícius, Endrick and Rodrygo could help Brazilian fans forget about Neymar's absence a lot quicker than anticipated.

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